Tag Archives: Farm-to-Table

“Soil Health Champions” Receive Conservation Awards

Extension Specialist Eric Bendfeldt (left) with Kevin Craun and Ryan Blosser

Extension Specialist Eric Bendfeldt (left) with Kevin Craun and Ryan Blosser

Harrisonburg, December 18, 2017 – Bridgewater brothers Kevin and Steve Craun and Augusta County farmer Ryan Blosser recently received the fourth annual Carl G. Luebben Soil Health and Water Quality Awards for their contributions to conservation in the commonwealth.

Sponsored by Houff Corporation, the award is named for Luebben, a former Houff salesman known for his passion for agronomy, sustainable systems, soil health research, 
and mentorship of conservation professionals.

The Craun brothers are fourth-generation dairymen who operate Hillview Farms, Inc., a 435-acre dairy with 150 milking cows, 150 replacement heifers, and 100 head of beef cattle in the southwestern corner of Rockingham County near Bridgewater, Virginia. They are true “soil health champions” who have a well-established cropping system, including alfalfa in the rotation, and take care to closely balance residue management to build organic matter. Other notable Best Management Practices include no-till planting, cover crops, manure storage, and side-dressing nitrogen. Numerous practices have also been installed on pastures to promote herd health, cow comfort, and forage production.

Kevin and Steve sell their beef and milk through local co-ops, which showcase locally grown food from farmers who cherish the land and its sustainability. They have opened their operation to numerous school groups, production tours, and conservation agencies to provide a closer look at these practices. The brothers also serve on various boards; Kevin is a former Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District director and board chairman.

Ryan Blosser is the owner-operator of the Dancing Star Farm, where he grows high-quality, chemical-free vegetables with limited tillage. Blosser plants highly diverse crops in permanent rows that are tilled while the rest of the soil remains untouched. The residue remaining on his fields increases organic matter, and crop rotation breaks up pest cycles without chemicals. His soil-health-building practices offer added benefits of increasing water-holding capacity and reducing runoff, leaching, and erosion. Blosser also uses a swale system to filter water, leaving it cleaner than when it entered the farm.

Blosser runs a very successful Community Supported Agriculture program on just 1.25 cultivated acres and focuses on giving back to the agricultural community. He is an executive director for Project Grows, a nonprofit group that hosts summer camps and field trips to teach children about gardening while providing food for the community. He is also involved with the Shenandoah Permaculture Institute, which teaches citizens about this form of intensively planned, environmentally restorative agriculture.

The Crauns and Blosser received their awards at the Virginia Farm to Table Conference, hosted by Virginia Cooperative Extension and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service at Blue Ridge Community College on Dec. 6, 2018. Carl’s son Dan was on hand to participate in the presentations. Carl Luebben, who died in October 2015, previously served on the Rockingham County Virginia Farm Bureau Board and the Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District.

Contact:
Eric Bendfeldt
ebendfel@vt.edu
540-432-6029, ext. 106

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2014 Virginia Farm to Table Conference will focus on nutrition, health, and sustainability

Fresh produce at a local farmers market.

Fresh produce at a local farmers market.

Nutrition, Health, and Sustainability From the Ground Up is the theme for the 2014 Virginia Farm to Table conference being held Dec. 2 through 4, 2014.

The conference, hosted by Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Soil Health Coalition, and the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 2 and 3, at Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, Virginia.

Day 3 will take place Thursday, Dec. 4, at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia.

Those who are interested in boosting local economies, promoting soil health and human nutrition, working to grow and develop community enterprises, and supporting local agriculture and conservation of natural resources are encouraged to attend.

The conference will offer many opportunities for discussion, learning, and networking.

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Inside the ARECs: Hampton Roads AREC hosts Farm to Fork event

The Agricultural Research and Extension Centers are a network of 11 research centers located throughout the state that emphasize the close working relationship between the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Inside the ARECs” highlights the work and accomplishments of these 11 centers and will appear in every Insights.

On Sept. 21, the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center partnered with Buy Fresh Buy Local Hampton Roads to host the fourth annual “Farm to Fork” local food celebration.

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Buy Fresh Buy Local is a grassroots organization dedicated to connecting consumers to locally grown foods and products.

Fourteen of the area’s best chefs each worked with a local producer to create tasting dishes using fresh, seasonal ingredients from the farms and waters of Hampton Roads. Some of the highlights were Terrapin Restaurant’s black pepper cantaloupe sorbet, made with Mattawoman Creek Farm melons, and pulled pork supplied by Rainbow’s End Farm and prepared by Country Boys BBQ.

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